Yea, I said it. I wish I didn’t have to. Showing any form of disrespect to a true godfather of Hip Hop isn’t going to make you popular by everyone in the culture, but let’s not pretend he’s an authority on everything under the sun. As much as it doesn’t seem like I was, I was merciful in titling this piece. I was going to call it ‘KRS One is Irrelevant,’ but even I couldn’t bring myself to say those two names in the same sentence.
What I could bring myself to say, however, is that with the advent of the Internet, no rapper has an excuse not to make whichever moves they please and blaming external forces is counterproductive.
KRS One is not exempt from criticism of his choice words by virtue of being a legend. ‘Know thy enemy’ is a useful phrase to bear in mind whenever situations like this one arise, and I want to make it incandescently clear that I see KRS One as nothing less than an ally and instructor, a god if you will, to the movement spearheaded by Hip Hop. You can never take that away from him but, with all due respect, it’s 2015 and the reason you’re having trouble selling your music in the U.S is because nobody’s tryna buy it, fam.
Forgive me for being blunt but I see no reason to walk on eggshells. He’s just a human and so are you. If my dad says some stupid shit, I’m not going to agree with him because he’s my dad. I’m also not going to curse and yell at him, but that won’t prevent me from fostering an open discussion or from being honest about our respective lanes and KRS One: what today’s America wants to hear is not your lane anymore.
This comes from remarks KRS made this week during an interview with the epic Vlad TV, which you can peep below in full:
[youtube width=”705″ height=”450″ video_id=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARwWuFsNIMY”]
In it, the godfather talks facts about why the governments of people overseas, in countries like Switzerland, are more accepting and nurturing to Hip Hop.
Our parents were on their hands and knees begging to be a part of America,” KRS-One said. “We were never part of that, ever…Blacks and Latinos get it the worst. We get it the worst in America. But the white people in America too started looking. And just a sense of justice. Was just like ‘Wait a minute, why is it like this if it should be like this?’ And this is when Hip Hop exploded. With Public Enemy who was representing Minister Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. And their whole audience was white kids…You can tell that the government here [Switzerland] is lenient towards Hip Hop. Towards it elements. Breaking in the street, graffiti on the wall, people rapping. I can’t make money in America. Why am I here? It’s 2013, okay. Why is KRS in Switzerland and not in Ohio…The political leadership of Ohio don’t respect me.
Yo I feel you KRS, I really do. But you ain’t playing in Ohio because the demand isn’t there, not because the political leadership there doesn’t respect you, which may also be true but I promise that it’s not the main reason. Joey Bada$$ has been moving units and doing numbers these past few weeks with his debut album B4DA$$, a work very much in line with traditional Hip Hop principals and values.
I’m sure they fuck with Joey out in Ohio. If the political leadership of Ohio had a clear vendetta against Hip Hop, I think there’d be more incentive to keep Joey from performing than KRS One (not a diss just being real). Joey’s music poses much more of a threat to contemporary politics and if you don’t believe me, then go listen to it. It sucks, because I feel like most of what KRS says is important and deserves a resounding “YAAAASSSSS,” but it’s what I would call a misdiagnosis of the particular problem he’s referring to.
Do we need to reclaim our culture? Fuck yea. Does the government probably hate Hip Hop? Ideologically, I’d say. Does the political leadership of Ohio respect you? That is most certainly up for debate on a case-by-case basis. But is the reason that no one in America buys your music due to these things?
I’d hate for this opinion to be received in the wrong context. I think that the interview is one that every Hip Hop fan owes it to themselves to watch and can cultivate a greater appreciation for Hip Hop by, and while you’re at it watch the man speak as much as you can because every time he does, he drops jewels and I’m not just saying that because I criticized him. Dude is a walking library of ancient manifested knowledge. There’s a reason why, decades later, people from all around the world still fuck with him like that.
I would never say that old heads like KRS need to let go because we wouldn’t have Hip Hop, as we know it, without their heart and passion, and they’ll always have prominent seats at the table. However, some individuals need to understand that they don’t speak for the whole culture when they open their mouths, and coming off as hella embittered isn’t going to help you stay relevant in the competitive marketplace Hip Hop has inevitably become.
You need to drop some fire, Kris, and let the people decide if they want to champion it. You may not be down with the music that’s being beamed through our airwaves now, but you’re lucky that the Swiss even still fuck with you. Many artists in your age bracket, regardless of genre, haven’t been as fortunate…
tl;dr make better music